The result: Rice 27, UTSA 21
The records: Rice is 4-2, 3-0 in Conference USA. UTSA is 2-5, 1-2 in C-USA.
The significance: Rice remained tied with Tulane (5-2, 3-0) atop the Conference USA West standings. With winnable games the next two weeks, Rice should be bowl eligible by the end of the month. Although it’s not always pretty, the team is finding ways to win on the road.
The grade: B-. UTSA outgained Rice by 94 yards and held the first down advantage 24-15, but the Owls were still was in control of the contest from the second quarter on. Getting starting running back Charles Ross back helped spark the offense to build a 27-7 lead. However, the offense later went through another second half funk. The special teams were outstanding, including recovering a fumble punt and an onside kick to seal the win. Rice had no turnovers and only five penalties.
The play: Rice led 13-7 and had driven the ball to the UTSA 37 with about 30 seconds left in the first half. While another Chris Boswell field goal would have been nice, Rice decided to take a shot down the field. Quarterback Taylor McHargue threw a 37-yard strike to Dennis Parks for the touchdown. It was the first touchdown reception of the season for the San Antonio-area native.
The good stat: 20.3 average yards per completion. Rice only had 9 pass receptions, but the receivers made them count by averaging 20 yards a catch, double UTSA’s average.
The bad stat: The Roadrunners were 4 of 6 on fourth down attempts.
The X-factor: The Rice pass defense was terrific, especially in the first three quarters. UTSA quarterback Eric Soza had just 32 yards passing going into the final quarter. The Owls recorded four pass breakups.
The David Bailiff quote: “We are 3-0 in conference and we are having some problems. We have not seen our best football yet, but I would rather be operating from this side at 3-0 than on the other side trying to figure it out.”
The Player quote (Dennis Parks. WR) “The last three wins have been really ugly and really close, but we are going to focus and work on finishing because that is where we need the most work. When we get opportunities to make good plays, we have to execute. We do a great job of that in the first half, then kind of back off in the second half.”
The UTSA quote: (Nic Johnson, safety) “You can’t really say we outplayed them when they put more points on the board. There are a few plays we would like to take back defensively. I don’t think they should have had 27 points. We gave them probably 10 of those if not more, but they made plays and we didn’t. We can’t blame anyone else.”
The game story: can be found here.
The fun fact: Rice has scored first in all six games this season.
The overall series: Rice 2, UTSA 0
Rice Examiner Players of the Game:
1. Stuart Mouchantaf (junior DL)- 7 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, 1 sack
2. Dennis Parks (sophomore WR) - 3 catches, 60 yards, touchdown
3. Julius White (junior safety)- 8 tackles, 1 for a loss
Up Next: Road game at New Mexico State, 7 p.m. Saturday